War Memorials and Thankful Villages
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we remember those who gave their lives for the freedom of others. This tradition was started in 1919 by King George V at a banquet in honour of the French President, when a two-minute silence was held – exactly twelve months on from the end of the Great War. Since that day, on the second Sunday of November, people gather in their communities to pay their respects and remember those who left, never to return.
In the UK, Remembrance Sunday is focused on the Cenotaph in London. But there was a strong feeling that because the impact the war touched every corner of the country, they wanted to remember their fallen closer to home.
There would be no government funds for local memorials, the communities would have to find the money themselves. Local communities were very generous with their support, raising funds for monuments, which were inscribed with the names of those they had known so well. These memorials can still be seen today, along with memorial halls, schools, hospitals etc.
However, there are three villages in Wales that do not have a war memorial. They are: Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn (NPRN 33047) in North Cardiganshire, Herbrandston (NPRN 419215) in West Pembrokeshire, and Colwinston (NPRN 415022) in the Vale of Glamorgan. They are “Thankful Villages”, where those who left to fight in the First World War, all returned home safe and well. There are only 56 such places in the United Kingdom.
Witnessing the universal mourning in the surrounding settlements, the Thankful Villages had experienced some sense of shame, as if they had not had as much involvement in the war. Although their contribution was the same as any other village, the feeling of an embarrassing privilege lasted for several decades. Death in war was a fate that spared those settlements.
Furthermore, Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn and Herbrandston were both fortunate to have their men also return in the Second World War, making them a “Doubly Thankful Village”. There are only 16 other places that can claim that very special status.
Medwyn Parry, Archive and Library Officer